“The hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear.” – Caityln Jenner, Glamour’s 2015 Woman of the Year
Now, Caitlyn, if you have chosen to become a figurehead for women and transgender women, it is your responsibility not to make such ignorant comments. It is because of words like these that society belittles the real hardships of women, because it believes us to be fickle creatures obsessed only with our hair and makeup. And yet, we are the ones who have to physically bear the children, have to worry about being raped and abused while we walk in the street, bleed for days on end, and are forced to “deal with” demeaning sneers and gestures from men every day.
I am not attacking transgender women or even Caitlyn Jenner specifically, but the comment itself. If you have not grown up as a woman every second of your life, you cannot possibly understand the hardest parts about being a woman. So don’t pretend to.
This is not to say that Caitlyn and transgender women are not welcome in the female community. But if you choose to identify as a woman, you must take femininity with all of its awful, terrifying facets as well.
Actress Rose McGowan criticized Caitlyn’s words:
Caitlyn Jenner, you do not understand what being a woman is about at all. You want to be a woman and stand with us – well learn us. We are more than deciding what to wear. We are more than the stereotypes foisted upon us by people like you. You’re a woman now? Well f**king learn that we have had a VERY different experience than your life of male privilege. Being a woman comes with a lot of baggage. The weight of unequal history. You’d do well to learn it. You’d do well to wake up. Woman of the year? Not by a long f**king shot.
Let me amend this by saying I'm happy for what she's doing visibility wise for the trans community, and I'm happy she's living her truth, but comments like hers have consequences for other women. How we are perceived, what our values are, and leads to more stereotyping. If you know you are going to be speaking to media about being a woman, maybe come to understand our struggles.
And Troy Brown added ten photos to McGowan’s Facebook post, all with the same caption: “The hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear.” – Caitlyn Jenner
After McGowan, as was to be predicted, was attacked for daring to speak out against a transgender icon for the sake of her own beliefs, she posted again:
Let me take this moment to point out that I am not, nor will I ever be, transphobic. The idea is laughable. Disliking something a trans person has said is no different than disliking something a man has said or that a woman has said. Being trans doesn't make one immune from criticism.
I know that being a public figure is not easy. Being Caitlyn Jenner is most assuredly not easy, but that doesn't absolve her of her of responsibility. Living as a woman in this backwards society is hard. We need all hands on deck. Those who have the microphone speak to many. Especially that family.
I'd be thrilled to fight alongside Caitlyn Jenner. I just want her to know there is a monumental fight to be had.
Let's start retraining thought patterns. Let's go forwards, not backwards.
And maybe next time I'll curse less.
“There is nothing more difficult than to share another person’s fear.” – Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide
Gretchen Kelly wrote an article summarizing the real adversities of being a woman. Here are some of the most profound points:
We have all learned, either by instinct or by trial and error, how to minimize a situation that makes us uncomfortable. How to avoid angering a man or endangering ourselves. We have all, on many occasions, ignored an offensive comment. We’ve all laughed off an inappropriate come-on. We’ve all swallowed our anger when being belittled or condescended to...It’s not something we talk about every day. We don’t tell our boyfriends and husbands and friends every time it happens. Because it is so frequent, so pervasive, that it has become something we just deal with...It’s feeling sick to your stomach that we had to “play along” to get along.
It’s feeling shame and regret that we didn’t call that guy out, the one who seemed intimidating but in hindsight was probably harmless. Probably.
It’s taking our phone out, finger poised over the “Call” button when we’re walking alone at night.
It’s positioning our keys between our fingers in case we need a weapon when walking to our car.
It’s lying and saying we have a boyfriend just so a guy would take “No” for an answer.
It’s being at a crowded bar/concert/insert any crowded event, and having to turn around to look for the jerk who just grabbed our ass.
It’s knowing that even if we spot him, we might not say anything.
It’s walking through the parking lot of a big box store and politely saying Hello when a guy passing us says Hi. It’s pretending not to hear as he berates us for not stopping to talk further. What? You too good to talk to me? You got a problem? Pffft… bitch.
It’s not telling our friends or our parents or our husbands because it’s just a matter of fact, a part of our lives.
It’s the memory that haunts us of that time we were abused, assaulted or raped.
It’s the stories our friends tell us through heartbreaking tears of that time they were abused, assaulted or raped.
It’s realizing that the dangers we perceive every time we have to choose to confront these situations aren’t in our imagination. Because we know too many women who have been abused, assaulted or raped...Guys, this is what it means to be a woman. We are sexualized before we even understand what that means. We develop into women while our minds are still innocent. We get stares and comments before we can even drive. From adult men. We feel uncomfortable but don’t know what to do, so we go about our lives. We learn at an early age, that to confront every situation that makes us squirm is to possibly put ourselves in danger. We are aware that we are the smaller, physically weaker sex. That boys and men are capable of overpowering us if they choose to. So we minimize and we de-escalate.
It’s not necessarily society’s fault for not understanding this fear. They never have had to do any of these things; they never have had to be aware of these issues. We need to make this fear more relatable.
College Humor actually took a huge step in this direction when they made the video: “It’s on Us: What if Bears Killed One in Five People?” The video, starring Rob Riggle, Jake Johnson, and Lamorne Morris, addresses the terrifying statistic that one out of every five women will be sexually assaulted before leaving college. What if bears killed one in five people? Wouldn’t we as a society band together to address the problem? So that fewer people will be killed?? The skit mentions all of the most inappropriate ways in which society currently deals with rape.
“Oh yea, that’s just the big, hungry bear. I don’t know what to do about it, so I just choose to ignore it.”
“Hey, what happens between you and the bear is not my business.”
And my personal favorite, “You know the old saying, ‘Bears will be bears!’”
I think it was also very important that the cast of the video was all male, and starred very popular actors. This shows that well-liked and respected men in the popular community find this issue worth discussing.
It is PSAs like this, that promote awareness, that need to be more common in today’s media. Not ignorant comments like those of Caitlyn Jenner, who is a new member of the female community and yet seems to believe she knows the sufferings we have been forced to endure since birth. Every member of the community: men, women, transgender men and women, need to be a part of this movement. Supporting women is not tearing down men, simply elevating women to the same social status and respect. The hardest part of being a woman is not a single thing, and encompasses terrors that cannot be described. Let’s change that, together.